Remember 1984? That’s the year Apple launched its Macintosh computer during the Super Bowl and Kawasaki introduced the Vulcan 750 cruiser (as a 1985 model), giving birth to a model line that’s still going strong today, three decades later. Vulcans are available in three sizes, powered by a 1,700cc V-twin (Voyager and Vaquero; the Nomad has been discontinued), a 903cc V-twin (Custom, Classic and Classic LT) or a 649cc parallel twin (the new-for-2015 Vulcan S).
The Vulcan 900 Custom ($8,499) is a blacked-out street rod, the Classic ($7,999) has traditional cruiser styling with floorboards, chrome exhaust pipes and wire-spoke wheels, and the Classic LT ($8,999) adds a windshield, saddlebags and a passenger backrest. Kawasaki left prices unchanged for 2015, but colors are new. Our 2014 Classic LT test bike wears Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Titanium two-tone paint, and Candy Mystic Blue/Pearl Crystal White is also available; for 2015, the only choice is Metallic Carbon Gray/Metallic Spark Black.
A single-pin crankshaft gives the Vulcan’s liquid-cooled 903cc 55-degree V-twin a nice rumble, a gear-driven counterbalancer reduces vibration and a belt sends power to the rear wheel. On Jett Tuning’s dyno, the Kawasaki produced a broad spread of torque that peaked at 52.0 lb-ft at 3,400 rpm, and horsepower rose linearly to 46.0 at 5,600 rpm. The Kawasaki’s 5.3-gallon tank is the largest in this test, and based on our 47.7-mpg average, it has the longest range at 253 miles.
2014 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT
Base Price: $8,999 (same for 2015)
Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 55-degree V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 88.0 x 74.2mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Valve Train: SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 15,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: Digital fuel injection w/ 34mm throttle bodies x 2
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 3.9-qt. cap.
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Ignition: TCBI w/ electronic advance
Charging Output: 448 watts max.
Battery: 12V 10AH
Frame: Tubular-steel double cradle w/ steel swingarm
Wheelbase: 64.8 in.
Rake/Trail: 32 degrees/6.3 in.
Seat Height: 26.8 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm stanchions, no adj., 5.9-in. travel
Rear: Link-type single shock, adj. for spring preload, 4.1-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Single disc w/ 2-piston pin-slide caliper
Rear: Single disc w/ 2-piston pin-slide caliper
Wheels, Front: Wire spoke, 3.00 x 16 in.
Rear: Wire spoke, 4.50 x 15 in.
Tires, Front: Tube-type, 130/90-H16
Rear: Tube-type, 180/70-H15
Wet Weight: 662 lbs.
Load Capacity: 392 lbs.
GVWR: 1,054 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals., last 1.1 gals. warning light on
MPG: 87 PON min. (low/avg/high) 44.6/47.7/49.6
Estimated Range: 253 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: NA
This motorcycle review was part of a larger motorcycle comparison article called Touring Twins, which was published in the January 2015 issue of Rider magazine, along with individual reports on all four motorcycles. Follow the links below to read the individual reviews and see full specs on each motorcycle.